OLIVER PAIPOONGE – Kramer Hickock learned how to win last week on the Mackenzie Tour-PGA Tour Canada.
He might just do it again on Sunday at Whitewater Golf Club.
The University of Texas product and best friend of multiple major champion Jordan Spieth put himself in position for back-to-back championships, firing a 5-under back nine to finish his second round at the Staal Foundation Open, the tournament still backlogged because of bad weather on Thursday.
He followed with a 1-uner 71 in Round 3 and sits tied atop the leaderboard at 11-under par with Benton, Ky.’s Patrick Newcombe.
Newcombe was 3-under 69 for his round, both golfers with 205 totals.
Hickock’s confidence is sky high coming off last week’s win, he said.
“It’s something I’m always going to look back on and just rely on down the stretch and say, ‘Hey, I’ve done it before, so obviously I can do it now,’” he said.
“It’s just nice to know I can bring out my best stuff when I need it.”
It was a day when no one golfer seemed to be able to pull away from the pack.
When all was said and done, a dozen golfers are within three shots of the lead, five more another shot back.
There’s plenty at stake for Hickok other than winning another title.
A victory would solidify his spot in the RBC Canadian Open later this month, and all but mathematically ensure himself a spot in The 5 at season’s end and a spot on the Web.com Tour in 2018.
“All I’m doing is trying to limit the mistakes and play solid golf. Then the rest takes care of itself. You play good and you win and everything seems to fall into place. Tomorrow my goal is to go out there and limit the mistakes, which is what I’ve been doing, watch a few leaderboards and see what I need to do,” he said.
“I’m sure a couple of guys are going to get hot. It seems like it’s a packed leaderboard.”
Newcombe is primed to come out firing, with back-to-back-to-back sub-par rounds under his belt.
He knows he let a lot of holes get away on Saturday.
“Today was a roller-coaster ride. I got off to a really hot start and forgot how to play golf for a few holes – and figured it out coming home,” Newcombe said.
“The game’s been really turning and over the weekend I think I went 10-under on my last 45 holes in Winnipeg to jump start me and it rolled over into this week. I’ve just got to make the short ones. I didn’t make the short ones there in the middle stretch and made a bunch of bogeys, which was surprising for me.”
The top Canadian is Kimberley, B.C.’s Jared du Toit, who held a share of the overnight lead, and shot 1-under 71 to sit two back of the top, one shot behind American Chad Ramey, whose 6-under 66 was the low round of the day.
Du Toit, a top-nine finisher at last year’s Canadian Open says he’s learned a little bit every week and is confident he can handle the pressure of Sunday.
He’s also got a score in mind that it might take to win.
“If I can get something in the 66, 65 range, I think I’ll like my chances for sure,” du Toit said.
The final group will tee off at 11:55 a.m. on Sunday.